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Apple iPhone 'getting a bit dusty' suggests Blackberry boss as firm orders a million of his Z10 phone

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

March 18, 2013 | 4 min read

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins believes the rapidly advancing global smartphone market has left Apple’s iPhone behind. In fact, as the Wall Street Journal put it, he suggested that the iPhone was tarting "to look a little dusty."

Heins: Apple getting left behind?

"The rate of innovation is so high in our industry that if you don’t innovate at that speed you can be replaced pretty quickly," he told the Australian Financial Review.

"The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for what this invention was all about is now five years old.”

Apart for the Blackberry, last week’s launch of the Samsung S4, along with other smartphone releases had "reeled in the lead Apple used to hold in the market," he said.

Heins, speaking before the launch of the Z10 Blackberry in Australia, said his company would have 100,000 native apps available for the device in time for the US launch later this week.

He said BlackBerry was encouraging users to switch from other mobile platform. Developers of big name apps like Instagram and Netflix were being won over by the reaction to the new BB10 operating system.

“Apple did a fantastic job in bringing touch devices to market...They did a fantastic job with the user interface, they are a design icon. There is a reason why they were so successful, and we actually have to admit this and respect that,” Heins said.

But Heins said new BlackBerry phones had surpassed the iPhone in the ability to multi-task - running multiple apps at once. Users could work in the same fashion on their smartphone as on a laptop.

Samsung, HTC and Nokia had also impressed industry watchers with the quality of their top-end smartphones, leading to questions about whether Apple needs to speed up its release cycle of new iPhones.

“The point is that you can never stand still. It is true for us as well. Launching BB10 just put us on the starting grid of the wider mobile computing grand prix, and now we need to win it,” Heins said.

Heins said he couldn’t disclose early sales figures for the BB10 devices, because of the quiet period ahead of quarterly reporting but said the company had been pleasantly surprised by the number of customers leaving rival platforms. He wouldn't say who they were taking customers from.

He said there had been commentary around the world suggesting the BB10 represented a “do or die” moment for the company.

While he agreed that it was vital to make waves with the phones, he rejected the idea that the company was teetering on a precipice.

"I shake my head sometimes and wonder what everyone is talking about. The company has no debt. I will report pretty good cash position by the end of March in my earnings call.

"I think we did a really diligent job in, not just keeping the company afloat, but also bringing it back to health.”

The BlackBerry got a boost last week by news that a mystery buyer was buying one million handsets.

Heins said he couldn't reveal reveal who the customer was, but said it was a "symbolically important milestone" for the company.

“It is the biggest ever in BlackBerry history and we are really happy with the vote of confidence."

Heins is in Australia until Wednesday. He spent the weekend speaking with execs at the Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, and has a packed schedule of meetings ahead of his departure.

“There is a reason why I took a 23 hour flight from cold Canada to Melbourne and that is because Australia is a very important market for us," he said. "Australia is one of our top ten markets, we need to succeed here, so you will see us pumping a lot of energy into this market.”

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